The new Streamium SA9345 is the latest MP3-playing gloss-fest from Netherlands-based Philips. The last Philips model we checked out was the SA6025 -- an affordable but average performer. The SA9345 retails for £129, which is as much as one of the new video-playing 8GB iPod nanos. When we saw the price, we were extremely sceptical of this player's chances of success.
To start with, the 4GB flash player supports just MP3 and WMA files, though protected and subscription WMA content is compatible. Video support comes in the form of WMV with bit rates up to 384kbps and curiously, Philips claims it plays 'rental' videos. What the Hello Kitty?
A CD comes with the player to assist in the video format conversion process. You can throw any JPEG photos on here, too, but you'll have to make do with peering at them through a 46mm (1.8-inch) colour LCD display with a resolution of 220x176 pixels. So far, very average.
Over the iPod nano, the SA9345 boasts an FM radio, but that's about it. Battery life for audio is an average 20 hours but video is a disappointing two hours. But let's not beat around the George W -- we gotta find out what it's like to use.
We dragged a fat helping of MP3s directly into the player's memory through Windows Explorer, but Windows Media Player works fine, too. It's an incredibly lightweight player at just 47g and feels good to hold. Navigation of the simple icon-based menus is easy with the touch-sensitive buttons, a little like Samsung's YP-K3. There's a tiny bit of lag when browsing through artists and songs but nothing too awful.
Sound quality's pretty good. We pumped a variety of tracks through the little guy with the help of our lovely Denon AH-C700 earphones. Performance was generally okay and most people won't complain, though it's not got the definition or power of a Creative or Cowon player.
After using the SA9345 for a while, it's clear the player is way overpriced. It's a very average all-rounder and would be better suited with a price around the £79 mark if it wants a chance at competing with the likes of Creative or Apple -- it just leaves too much to desire.
Check back soon for our full review. In the mean time, click through for some glossies of Philips' new audio offering.
Update: A full review of the Philips SA9345 is now available. -Nate Lanxon